In this week's edition of the Warm-Up, I tap into the opening night of the most anticipated season for Alabama basketball. The energy in the gyms was amazing. Some teams picked up right where they left off, and others came out with a different mentality; to prove that they are next up.
Here's some insight into what I saw on opening night.
The atmosphere last night in Huntsville was truly electric. The student section was jumping, and everyone came out to see the matchup between the Grissom tigers and Hazel Green high.
After not having such a successful season last year, the Tigers would make a significant shift in their offense, centering it around the big three of Efrem "Butta" Johnson Jr., Izzy Miles, and RJ Johnson. I must say that these guys were spectacular last night, combining for a whopping 71 points.
Coach Ward had this team clicking on all cylinders; they came out with some intense defense from the jump, which set the night's tone. The Tigers played with a lot of discipline, hands out wide, moving their feet. When you play defense the right way, the opposing team will reward you with a turnover.
Entering his final season with the Tigers, Butta Johnson came out last night to make a statement that no one will outwork or out-score him on the floor. He played aggressive on-ball defense and did a great job drawing the foul and making them pay for it at the line all night.
Johnson caught fire in the second half, coming down the floor hitting three after three extending the lead even more. There was no answer for Johnson, and he would finish with 35pts to start the season.
I was really impressed with Izzy Miles and the way he approached the game. He came out with great energy, and with that quick first step, he was slashing past any defender that attempted to stop him.
Miles' early scoring set the tone for what would help with an early blowout late in the third. Watching a kid dive for loose balls with a double-digit lead is an incredible sight; Miles was prepared to keep his foot on the gas until the final buzzer.
RJ Johnson did exactly what I expected; he played with the same high energy and did a great job getting easy baskets at the rim, pulling down rebounds, and did some excellent facilitating. Miles and RJ would both finish with 18pts.
Final Score: 85-46 W
Next opponent: Spain Park – Nov. 11
Huffman came out strong in the first quarter and implemented the same intensity on defense, causing turnovers left and right. They moved the ball exceptionally well, and that allowed them to get easy baskets all night.
CJ Blount came out and did not skip a beat with his strong attacks to the basket and with his smooth shot from the three. In his player profile from last year, Blount stated that something he wanted to change about his game was coming out and making an impact early instead of the second half.
I must say that Blount did not have that issue at all last night. He played with great confidence and made significant decisions with the ball. He would finish with 19pts and helped his team to a dominating victory over Carver-Birmingham 63-39. Huffman will play Hoover on Nov. 16.
Mortimer Jordan was all business winning 77-30 over Jemison High.
Chelsea High defeated Brookwood 51-34, Led by Paul Lanzi with 22pts.
Hewitt-Trussville defeated Albertville 51-47, Led by Ray Rolley with 16pts.
Huntsville High defeated New Hope 68-42, Led by Massiah Morris with 25pts, 6 Rebs, 4 assts, and 3 stls.